BUFFALO – The badgering has finally stopped. Josh Gorges is healthy, ready to return from a hip injury that cost him the last 12 games. So Sabres coach Dan Bylsma can walk by the defenseman again without getting an earful.
“Josh has been one miserable guy to be around,” Bylsma, who has called Gorges “crusty,” said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “I don’t walk by him without him saying he’s ready to play, and that was about 15 days ago.”
Gorges, 32, will play tonight against the Ottawa Senators, his first action since Jan. 5. Meanwhile, defenseman Jake McCabe, 23, will also return after a shoulder injury sidelined him five games.
For Gorges, a proud, hard-nosed veteran, sitting out has been excruciating.
“If it was up to Josh, he probably would’ve sat out 20 hours and not 20 days,” Bylsma said. “He’s been saying for a good portion of time he’s ready to play and could play and wants to play. His injury is one … he wasn’t able to have any activity for a portion of time.”
Gorges said: “It’s been a tough last month.”
What happened? Gorges developed a hematoma, “an abnormal collection of blood outside of a blood vessel,” according to medicine.net, in his hip.
“In all my years of playing hockey, I’ve never heard of anybody having this injury,” Gorges said.
Gorges said he “didn’t know how to deal with” the injury. In the beginning, he said he was in too much pain to move.
“The last two weeks the pain subsided, but I was still in a position where I couldn’t really do much,” he said. “They didn’t want to have me doing any type of training, working out, skating that might aggravate it, irritate it, make it blow up again.”
Gorges said he felt healthy and normal.
“As good as I felt, there was something wrong inside,” he said.
Talking to his doctors, Gorges decided the risk of coming back early wasn’t worth it.
“I understand that from a medical standpoint, but (as) a player you never want to hear that,” he said. “You keep pushing, say, ‘No, I’m ready.’”
Gorges kept getting pushed recently by rehab coach Dennis Miller, who dresses in full gear and replicates game situations with some rigorous workouts.
“He’s the best I’ve seen at getting you ready not just to get back in shape, but to get back to playing hockey,” Gorges said.
Even with Gorges and McCabe back, the Sabres’ blue line is still banged up. Defenseman Zach Bogosian suffered a muscle/rib injury in Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers and is day-to-day, Bylsma said.
The Sabres will also scratch defenseman Taylor Fedun tonight.